If Dhanush can straddle a Raanjhanna and Maryaan squarely on his shoulders without having to choose between Bollywood and Kollywood what makes actresses like Asin and Sridevi stick to Bollywood despite pivotal roles being offered in regional movies? Or in this age of global everything does associating with just one language provide any gains? Should all stars look beyond their regional boundaries and look at Indian cinema as an all encompassing world? Would that end the privileged treatment that Bollywood movies and stars get at the world arena?
But does landing in Bollywood culminate an actress career? Despite the popular belief that Bollywood regards its heroines as mere eye candy that are subject to the whims and fancies of the stars and key players, there are women like Vidya Balan who have managed to break free of the mould and emerged as what I would call the Female Hero. She has defied every belief when Kahaani, a movie without a strong male lead, gyrating moves and titillating songs captivated audiences throughout the nation. If Vidya Balan can experiment and emerge triumphant what stops the southern stars from delving into power packed performances? Why are there very few takers to portray the southern siren in The Dirty Picture? Surely glamour is not the deal breaker since copious clothes are already being shed.
There are women who have broken free of the tentacles of region, language and complexion. Priya Anand who won accolades for her casual yet apt act in Ethi Neechal is probably one of the few who balances Bollywood, Tollywood and Kollywood expertly. She accompanied Sridevi in her return to filmdom in English Vinglish as the adorable niece Radha, breezed through her Telugu movie Ko Ante Koti, returned to her roots in Ethir Neechal and goes back to Bollywood with Fukrey. She has embraced all the languages and has slipped under the skin of all the characters without looking jarring in any of them. Is this the triumph of the 21st century artist?
Our very own Ulaga Nayagan’s daughter Shruthi Hassan is dipping her ink in Bollywood, Tollywood and Kollywood. With a pivotal role in 7am arivu, she did a commercial fest in the Dabangg remake Gabbar singh, went on to star in the romantic family entertainer Ramaiya Vastavaiya, raced back for Balupu and now awaits the release of D-Day. If there is a fitting prodigy for Kamal she has proved able by daring to smash boundaries.
If Dhanush, Shruthi Hassan and Priya Anand make crossing over the Vindhya’s seem effortless, others may just follow suit. With Deepika Padukone in Kochadaiyan and more directors releasing Bollywood blockbusters, the need to stifle movies within the confines of regional languages might just be over. Instead of aping one another and confining to stereotypes our movie makers may finally feel pride in showcasing their roots and get to cast from the national pool. That day Indian cinema would have embraced every region and language and soared on the strengths of its diversity.
Edited version was published here.